Group Demands Records on ‘One-In, Two-Out’ Rule

MANHATTAN (CN) – Saying the deadline to respond lapsed last month, a nonprofit fighting the “one-in, two-out” executive order on agency rule-making has asked a federal judge to intervene.

The Natural Resource Defense Council filed its April 20 complaint in Manhattan against the Office of Management and Budget. Though the 5-page filing makes no mention of it, the group is also fighting President Donald Trump in Washington over  his Jan. 30 executive order, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.”

The order takes its nickname from its requirement that federal agencies repeal two existing regulations for every new regulation they issue.

A few weeks after bringing its case in Washington — which accuses Trump of violates the Administrative Procedure Act, the separation of powers and the take-care clause of the U.S. Constitution — the NRDC asked the budget office for records related to the executive order under the Freedom of Information Act.

The NRDC says the Office of Management and Budget acknowledged receipt of its FOIA request on March 2, but has otherwise missed a March 30 deadline to respond.

Represented by in-house counsel Nancy Marks, the NRDC wants the OMB to release all responsive, nonexempt records promptly and at no cost, along with a fee waiver.

In the Washington case, the NRDC is represented by Michael Wall of San Francisco. The NRDC brought that case with Public Citizen and the Communications Workers of America. Neither group is a party to the FOIA case in New York.

Representatives for the Office of Management and Budget have not returned requests for comment on the lawsuit. The office has been under the leadership of Trump nominee Mick Mulvaney since his 51–49 Senate confirmation on Feb. 16.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended the one-in, two-out rule back in February as providing “much-needed relief for businesses who have been regulated and saddled with an absolutely staggering amount of additional red tape, as much as $1.9 trillion per year by some estimates.”

Earthjustice attorney Peter Lehner meanwhile predicted in a February interview with Courthouse News that any benefits of deregulation would lose their shine quickly.

“It’s actually not in the United States’ economic interest to have people die in car crashes or be sick because of what they breathe or getting harmed in their workplace,” Lehner said.

Spicer argued that the Washington lawsuit presumes lots of “wildly inaccurate” outcomes. “It makes a ton of assumptions that call for speculation on what may or may not happen in the future,” the spokesman told reporters. “And that’s highly — it’s just subjective at best and doesn’t have any basis in fact.”

As a way to manage “the direct expenditure of taxpayer dollars through the budgeting process,” the executive order stipulates that all new regulations should have a net cost of zero.

Public Citizen and its co-plaintiffs noted that the directive fails to consider how regulations provide a public benefit that significantly outweigh their costs.

“The executive order directs agencies to disregard the benefits of new and existing rules – including benefits to consumers, to workers, to people exposed to pollution, and to the economy – even when the benefits far exceed costs,” the complaint states.

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